Here’s What Happened When Google Did a Search for the Best Managers - AutoSuccessOnline

Here’s What Happened When Google Did a Search for the Best Managers

The results of Google’s Project Oxygen breathes new life into the role of managers.

The wildly popular comic strip “Dilbert” by Scott Adams is an amusing and mostly accurate depiction of the world of business. In one such strip, employees meet with their pointy-headed boss, who gets confused while trying to say he wants to empower his employees. Clearly, he’s not even sure what he means by it, especially since he’s never asked for their input. Out of the confusion, an employee asks if they can go back to their old way of doing things, where the employees were afraid to make decisions and the manager was never available?

In that old way madness lies.

Yes, the panel, as many “Dilbert” panels do, points out how some managers are incredibly, comically incompetent. But it may not be the manager’s fault entirely. A study by Gallup concluded companies fail to choose the right personnel for a management position 82% of the time.

It is no surprise, then, that the brilliant engineering minds behind Google, distrustful of bureaucracy, thought they didn’t need managers at all. In 2002, Google tried a flat structure known as a holacracy. This is a system that focuses less on traditional management roles and more on autonomy, with authority and decision-making relegated to self-organizing teams.

After only a few months, Google realized a flat structure didn’t work for the company. Like the characters in “Dilbert,” employees couldn’t make decisions or find the answers they needed, and the manager was never available because the role no longer existed. With no one in charge to set priorities, conflicts escalated while morale dropped.

If Google was going to need managers, the company concluded, they wanted to make sure they had the best. Enter Project Oxygen, a group of statisticians brought together by Google to gather and analyze data culled from performance reviews, manager awards and employee input. More than 10,000 observations, in total, were tracked in an effort to understand why some managers succeed where others fail.

The results surprised many at the top of the organization.

It turned out, managers, rather than holding an unnecessary or questionable position on an org chart, had a great impact on job performance at Google. As an engineering-driven company, they had assumed a manager’s mastery of technology was the one indisputable trait all successful Google managers shared. Although it’s an important skill set, to be sure, the data told them it was a far less important attribute than soft-skills, such as listening and communicating.

In order of importance, here are the eight essential attributes of a successful manager, based on the recommendations of Project Oxygen:

  1. Be a good coach;
  2. Empower their team, rather than micromanage;
  3. Express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being;
  4. Be productive and results-oriented;
  5. Be a good communicator (i.e. listen and share information);
  6. Help with career development;
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for their team;
  8. Possess the key technical skills that help them advise the team.

To those with tenure in H.R. departments, the findings and recommendations of Project Oxygen confirm what they’ve known for a long time: managers matter. That’s why it’s important to hire — and train — the best.

For more details about Project Oxygen, read this New York Times story and the Harvard Business Review case study on the project.

Toby Graham

You May Also Like

On-Demand: The New Speed of Auto Retail

Dealership inventories may be down, but smart fleet planning can ensure customers are getting the right combination of selection and utility. Rentals delivered by dealerships can give people a more economical way to get to work, to haul materials for those DIY projects or to just enjoy a new driving experience.

By Matt Carpenter, CEO, Dealerware

There are more franchise dealerships in the U.S. than Starbucks or McDonald’s locations. About two-thirds of America’s drivers live within 10 miles of their preferred dealership. Franchise dealerships have put America on wheels and kept America on wheels for over a century.

Why Your Next New Sale Could Come from the Service Garage

Gain a competitive edge by leveraging the data and resources of the service lane.

Unlock New Customers Using Cloud-Based Digitized Auto Lending

Today’s consumers don’t necessarily compare different lenders or dealers anymore; they compare experiences.

Retain Staff with Career Development Training

If you are serious about recruiting top talent and improving employee retention, create a career development program.

Does Embedded Auto Insurance Impact Customer Spend at the Dealership?

Insurance marketplaces incorporated within the car-buying experience present buyers with competitive pricing.

Other Posts

An Unlimited Source for Pre-Owned Inventory: The Service Drive

Why are used vehicles in higher demand than other pre-owned vehicles in the market?

An Unlimited Source for Pre-Owned Inventory: The Service Drive
Don’t Let Stubborn Economic Beliefs Drive Your Advertising Strategy This Time

The advertising industry is smarter and more competitive these days. Dealers need a trusted advisor to navigate and succeed in this complex environment.

The Benefits of Google’s GA4 Update

Learn about what’s changing with Google’s incoming GA4 update, and also about the benefits that the update provides for dealerships.

google analytics
10 Ways to Increase Show Rates at Your Dealership

Utilizing these 10 strategies on a regular basis will increase show rates at your dealership.